Happy Giving in Phnom Penh

December 12, 2013
Hey there! I'm so glad to have TaNusya to share her wonderful experience with us : Teaching in Cambodia! From her words and photos we can feel her immense joy of volunteering, and I admire her courage very much!  To be able to give is a blessing, to be willing to give is a greater one. They deserve our highest respect and gratitude. Read on, you'll see a beautiful soul in this kind young woman!  =)  

Volunteering in Cambodia
by TaNusya Murali

Recently, I went to Cambodia for a volunteering program through an organization called Volunteering Solutions. There are many programs available for you to choose, from volunteering in an orphanage to helping out in the NGOs; according to your preference. The program that I chose was to teach English for kids and I signed up for the two weeks program.

Cambodia is one of the poorest countries of the world where nearly 36% of the population lives below poverty line and are really depending on the help of volunteers especially in education which is why I chose to volunteer in Cambodia. 

Volunteering in Cambodia

While you are here, you can stay in a local host family, where you are provided with a separate room/shared with another volunteer or at the volunteer house accommodation where most volunteers chose to stay. As for me, I chose to stay in the volunteer house accommodation (Tattoo Guesthouse) because it is a great place to meet and interact with other like-minded volunteers from different parts of the world. 

There were about 30 volunteers staying there I shared my room with a volunteer from Australia. I was the only Asian there and it was a total new experience for me. Towards the end of my trip, I made a lot of good friends.

Volunteering in Cambodia
With other like-minded volunteers from different parts of the world.
(Photo by Pich Povvatey)

I volunteered in an organization called New Way of Life (School and orphanage), located in Phnom Penh and all placements were done by Volunteer Action for Cambodia (VAC), a local NGO. I was assigned to teach 2 sessions, in the morning from 8-10.30 am and afternoon from 2-4.30 pm. There were 2 other volunteers from Denmark who were placed in the same school as me, so we share the Tuk-tuk ride to our school every day, which usually takes about 20 minutes from our guesthouse.

First day at school was more of getting used to the place and kids. But the days after was nothing but fun and enjoyable moments with the kids! There was a local teacher to help us translate to the kids, as they don’t really understand English which made it easier for us to interact with the kids. 

Volunteering in Cambodia
This is Sophea, one of the closest to me. When I’m done teaching her, 
she would start teaching me during breaktime.

Every moment was fun and special, like how every morning and afternoon the kids would be waiting outside the school for my arrival and then hold my hand and walk me to the class. They got really attached to me and on the last day of my program at the school, the kids that I were teaching made some drawings for me to take it back with me. 

I felt really special with them. I must admit that it was really hard for me to leave because you could see and feel that they didn’t want you to leave. A part of me wanted to stay for at least a few more months but then there were too many unsettled things back home.

Volunteering in Cambodia
One of the many drawings I got from my students.

Volunteering in Cambodia
With the girls!

Volunteering in Cambodia
All my students from the afternoon session.

I stayed there for 16 days and I would say that it was one of the best of all the trips I’ve had. There is a joy in helping people, especially those who are really in need. 

I went there to make a difference in their life but what happened was that they made a difference to mine. This experience has made me realize a lot of important things in our daily life that we failed to see. The little things that matters the most, but we fail to appreciate. 

I have realized that we, the privileged ones must always make an effort to help the needy in every way we can. Because by doing so, we're not only helping them but in fact we're helping ourselves to be a better individual. 

I am glad I did this and I will do it again in future, maybe for a longer period. The 16 days in Cambodia was a whole new experience to me, something I will not forget.

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